Recently I attended an event that afforded me an opportunity to hear seven sales presentations, back to back.
The presenters ranged from seasoned and long tenured professionals to a couple of newer folks.
These presentations reminded me of some tips that the best speakers practice – and rest assured that the best speakers do practice often.
1. Plan your opening - The very first words that you speak to the audience should be something other than:
- “Is this on?” (referring to the microphone)
- “How’s everybody doing today?”
- “Well, I’ll make this brief because after the next speaker you get lunch”
Instead, try opening with one of the following:
- A story that grabs the audience’s attention
- A bold statement
- A compelling quote
2. Watch where you stand- Even the most seasoned presenters can get lost on stage. Take an extra minute before you are introduced to get a sense of where you should stand.
More than once I saw a wholesaler position themselves in between attendee tables such that their back was to 2 audience members for the majority of their talk.
3. Be mindful of data dumps – Our business is filled with data.
Tons and tons of it.
Yet your audience doesn’t have the capacity to digest more than small bites of spoken data points.
Avoid statements like “The Foonman Funds has been in business since December 3rd 1952, with offices in 200 cities, supporting over 13,000 employees. We pride ourselves on the fact that all of our 300 funds are in the top 10% of their Lipper peer group, which is a testament to the 600 investment professionals who provide this stellar performance to over 130,000 advisors.”
Think I’m exaggerating?
4. Match your allotted time with your slides – Only have 30 minutes, but the firm has outfitted you with 150 slides in the Building Bridges To A Brighter Retirement Tomorrow presentation?
Don’t flip through the first 30 while standing on stage to get to the place where you want to start the talk.
5. Beware of audience polling overload – An occasional question to poll the audience can be a valuable tool.
10 such questions in 30 minutes will simply result in the audience refusing to play the polling game.
6. Don’t decide for the audience how they’ll feel about your talk/topic – There’s a big difference between self sabotage and self deprecation.
When you mention the fact that the material you are going to speak about is dry, boring, tedious, old, tired, worn, or otherwise rife to be ignored guess what?
You are going to be tuned out!
7. Know your material, please – It just isn’t acceptable for you to stand in the front of the room and read an ENTIRE slide.
And it’s even less acceptable for you to do so with your back to the audience.
8. We can’t know it’s the 300th time you’ve given this presentation – Heavens knows that part of the sales professionals job is to give the same presentation countless times.
And the great ones never let that fact appear to be so.
If your are bored with the content, if you are tired of repeating it your audience will know!
Finally, here is a special message for all the marketing departments that send sales professionals out into the field with PowerPoint presentations that contain slides that have more words or graphs or charts on them than the human eye can possibly see from 50 feet (500 feet?) away:
Yes, we are in an industry that requires disclosures, I get that.
We are not, however, in an industry that requires you to design a slide the same way that you would a page in a brochure.
And when you insist on doing this it makes your folks look bad – and that’s a damn shame.